When testifying in a criminal case, it is important to know how to be a good witness. This may seem as simple as answering questions when asked, and while this is certainly the basis of testifying, being on the witness stand can involve much more than you may think. The most important aspect of testifying in a criminal case is to tell the truth.
When asked a question, answer directly. Make sure that you speak confidently and loud enough that you will be properly understood. It is easy to become nervous and stumble over your words. Remain calm and take a moment to think about your answer if you feel this will help you respond correctly.
If you did not hear a question properly, or if you do not understand a particular question, ask for it to be repeated. It is better to admit that you did not hear or do not understand, than to respond inappropriately. If you don’t know the answer to a question or if you can’t remember something, be honest. Don’t make up an answer and say something that you know to be untrue. If you don’t know or don’t remember, say so.
In terms of Courtroom decorum, you should dress appropriately when testifying. This means that you should dress as if you were going to an interview. Wearing the proper attire for Court establishes a sense of etiquette and respect. You should always be polite and respectful of the Judge and other criminal lawyers present and always maintain a calm and polite demeanour.
While testifying in a criminal case can be overwhelming and maybe a little intimidating, if you remember these tips on how to be a good witness, you will feel more at ease and deliver a better testimony. If you behave appropriately and answer truthfully, you will provide the Court with an honest and helpful testimony.